Next stop, in my crazy, sugar-fuelled, chocolate zig-zag across town was Jean-Paul Hévin at 231 rue St Honoré in the 1st.
I first encountered the inspired work of Hevin a few years ago when I was doing a chocolate course at the Hotel Ritz’s sumptuous cooking school around the corner, and was pleased to bump into the man himself, once again, when I visited his shop this time.
Along with a dazzling array of cakes and flavoured ganaches, the highlight here for me is Hevin’s cheese ganaches made with goat cheese, Epoisses, Roquefort and stinky old Pont l’évêque. Yes, that’s what I thought when I first heard about them, from my chocolate guru Christian Forais (although I didn’t pull quite such a face), but trust me, these so-called aperitif chocolates are extraordinarily good. Not sure how he makes them, but I guess he melts the cream with cheese instead of chocolate (the filling is creamy coloured) and some sugar, along with an additional flavour – cumin with the Epoisses, thyme with the Pont l’évêque, hazlenut with the goat cheese and walnut with the Roquefort. Incidentally, they were originally made to mark the new millennium; so much more appropriate than a great big tent, don’t you think?
Really, truly, honestly, they are staggeringly moreish, not at all cheesy, but unlike any other chocolate you will ever taste. In a good way. Actually, I once heard – or perhaps made up and have come to believe it as true – that the molecular structure of blue cheese, in particular, is an almost perfect match for dark chocolate, so perhaps this isn’t as batty-bonkers as it initially sounds, and, certainly, we all know that saltiness goes very well with all chocolates so why not salty cheese?
All I know is that for the price of a CD (or whatever format the youth of today use to listen to their popular beat combos), you get one of the world’s great, original chocolate experiences.
And Hévin is a very nice man (not sure about the sweaty weirdo next to him though).
I asked him about the secret of his cheese ganaches but he refused, ever so politely, to divulge it and, when I pushed him further, simply called the police and had me forcibly ejected, crying, from the shop.
But not before I had bagged me a box of cheese chocs, of course, which I ate en route to the latest chocolatier to open in Paris, Jacques Genin, whose deeply glamourous chocolatier-cafe-atelier is right at the top of rue de Turenne in the Marais. Definitely the most chic chocolatier in the city, with extremely elegant, thin ganaches covered in the most perfectly tempered couverture I have ever seen – super glossy and crisp, with some inventive flavours like sichuan pepper.
There is is! Quick, someone catch him and get him to make us some more!
Aren't they gorgeous? As Coleridge (or was it Keats?) said, 'A thing of beauty, is a joy forever. Now pass me the After Eights'.
Finally, because according to a recent EU directive all food bloggers at one time or another are compelled to do something on Parisian macarons, I popped by Pierre Hermé’s new store on the rue Cambon and had a liche and rose flavoured Ispahan sorbet sandwich.
I’ve tried his ice creams before and, as usual, this was sickly sweet and wincingly perfumed (and his wasabi and grapefruit macaron had zero wasabi flavour, grumble, moan, complain…), but as with the films of the Cohen brothers (Oh Brother Where Art Thou?: That's an hour and a half of my life I won't see again), I never seem to learn where Hermé is concerned.
That said, his crimes pale in comparison to those of Godiva, who judging by the display in their store window around the corner, persist in perpetrating the dangerous delusion that chocolate and strawberries go together (apparently Godiva is owned by a Turkish confectionary giant).
Sorry about the bad picture, but I was trembling with indignation. Chocolate and strawberries? Don’t get me started on that particular culinary heresy. Ooh, why I oughta…!
Phew! Had a brief black out there. Not sure what happened. Anyhoo, I'm off on an assignment for a magazine to Norway tomorrow. Not renowned for its food, Norway, but I am prepared to have my preconceptions overturned and will report back.